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Another blunder in Somalia

Another blunder in Somalia

From:   Frank Crigler
Fear not!, my friends! The U.S. cavalry has arrived (Airborne) , flags
flying, gunships blazing, to rid the Horn of Islamist radicals and save
the day for democracy. If you have not seen or heard the assurances
provided by our ambassador in Nairobi, you must check out the audio
interview he gave earlier this week by telephone to a Somali radio
interviewer, below. Asked whether the U.S. will  be involved militarily
in Somalia (to take up the slack after the after the Ethiopians leave),
our ambassador solemnly promised that "the United States is going to be
involved for [a] very long time. This is not something where we are
going in very quickly and will then leave. We are coming in to stay."
And it only gets worse.

But don't take my word for it; skip the text and click on the audio feed
to get the fullest neocolonial effect. I find it utterly appalling.

--frank crigler

*US ambassador to Kenya says he is optimistic about the future of
Somalia ( **audio* <http://www.shabelle.net/audia/Mecheal.ram%22>* )*
*Aweys Osman Yusuf**
**Mogadishu 23, Jan.07 ( Sh.M.Network) *

Explaining fully about the US stance on Somalia, Michael Ranneburger,
the US ambassador to Kenya, interviewed by Shabelle Media Network
correspondent Mohammed Amin by telephone from Nairobi, elucidated the US
policy towards Somalia.



*US ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneburger*


 *Listen The Interview* <http://www.shabelle.net/audia/Mecheal.ram%22>

Shabelle: What does the US government intend to do about the politics in
Somalia in the future?
Ambassador: The US policy on Somalia is very straightforward. What we
need to achieve are two things—really three things. We want to establish
help the Somali people establish security so that they are not played by
the warlords and by terrorists. Secondly, we want to start helping the
Somali people establish stability in the country so that there will be
law and order with peace so people can live in peace and prosperity, and
then three we want to ensure that the Somali people get all the
humanitarian assistances that they need, that is what we are working on.

Shabelle: On the issue of stability in Somalia, does it mean that US
will be involved in Somalia militarily?

Ambassador: What it means is that the United States is going to be
involved for very long time. This is not something where we are going in
very quickly and will then leave. We are coming in to stay. We want to
help the Somali people. We know it is in the interest of the Horn of
Africa for Somalia to be stable and we know that only if Somalia is
stable will the terrorists not be able to use it. In other words,
Somalia needs to be stable so that terrorists can not use that country
and so that the people can live in peace and that means the United
States is going to have to continue to support Somalia for a long time
to come. And we are doing a lot to try to reach out to the Somali
people. I want to ensure the Somali people that the United States will
remain engaged to support peace and prosperity in Somalia.

Shabelle: Many Somalis in Somalia, Mr. Ambassador, believe that the US
is reluctant to make a direct involvement in the affairs of Somalia as
they did they did in 1992, and some others believe that the US is not
satisfied with the current leadership in the country, such as the
transitional government of Somalia, so what can you say about those?

Ambassador: Well, what I would say is very simple. We have gotten over
the past and the Somali people need to get over the past. What is past
is the past. We have to look to the present and the future. Our view is
that—we know that there is a lot of friendship among the Somali people
towards the United States. We have a similar view of the people of
Somalia. We look at the Somali people as friends and as people that we
want to work with. We believe that our objectives and the objectives of
the Somali people are exactly the same, which is to achieve a stable,
democratic country and to achieve security, peace and prosperity. Now we
have indicated that we do support the transitional federal institutions
and the transitional federal charter that is the only base for stable
government in Somalia. But we have also made clear to the transitional
federal authorities and to the civil society and some other Somalis that
there needs to be dialog among all Somalis so that the TFG will truly be
inclusive so that it will really include all of the different elements
of Somali society and by that I mean the different clans or sub-clans,
representatives of civil society, women’s group, youth, business,
traditional religious leaders, and others.

Shabelle: Does this mean that the US is also encouraging a dialog
between TFG and the leaders of the defeated Islamic Courts such as Sheik
Sharif Sheik Ahemd?

Ambassador: Well, of course the Islamic Courts no longer exists as an
institution, but there are views -and I have said this before- any
Somali who renounces violence and extremism and terrorism should have a
role to play in the future of their country, and this will include
individual members of the Islamic Courts if they are moderate people who
as I say renounces violence, extremism and terrorism. And it is possible
that Sheik Sharif is one such person. We will have to see what he has to
say in the coming days and that remains to be seen. It is not just him,
there were many other members of the Islamic Courts who are moderate
people, who are trying to do the right thing. When Islamic Courts
started out, their objective was to restore law and order that was very
commendable. They certainly made a progress, in fact. The problem was
that radical people, including members of al-Qaeda took advantage of it
and try to exert control over the Islamic Courts.

Shabelle: Mr. Ambassador, besides Sheik Sharif that you have pointed out
as a moderate, can we also say that the moderate leaders of the Islamic
Courts include Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys?

Ambassador: I don’t want to get into commenting of a lot of individuals.
The reason I referred to Sheik Sharif is because he was the head of the
executive council and therefore he was a person in a position of a lot
of responsibility. He was one of the leading spokesmen of the Islamic
Courts. I think there are many there are many other people want to point
to, but I don’t want to get into saying which person specifically we
think was an extremist or a moderate. I think these people can prove
what they are by speaking out in favor speaking out against violence,
against terrorism and extremism. If they do that, they will prove
themselves to be moderates, and they will prove themselves as people who
deserve to play a role in the future of their country.
Shabelle: Back to Sheik Sharif, Mr. Ambassador, we have reports here in
Mogadishu that Sheik Sharif came to Nairobi under a US influence, is
that true?

Ambassador: No, I don’t think that is true. I would say you need to talk
to the Kenyans about Sheik Sharif about his situations. It is really up
to the Kenyan authorities. We did not have a role in that.

Shabelle: A statement from the US embassy in Nairobi indicates that you
are planning to meet with Sheik Sharif by the end of this week.

Ambassador: Well, I don’t know I have not seen that statement, but my
view would be that we are certainly open to talk with him. I had met him
in the beginning of September shortly after I arrived here in Nairobi
and I have told him at that time we were open to discussion and dialog
if he and others within the Islamic Courts renounced terrorism; took
actions against known terrorists and stop the military expansion. Of
course, those things did not happen, and so no other meetings. But again
–whether or not I will see him, I don’t know. That remains to be seen.
We are certainly hoping to contact with all Somalis who renounce
violence, extremism and terrorism.

Shabelle: Mr. Ambassador, you can find on the streets of Mogadishu many
people who say that Ethiopian troops have come to Somalia with the
consent of US government. Can you see anything on that issue?

Ambassador: Ethiopian did not ask our consent. They did not need it.
They acted to their own strategic reasons. First of all they were
defending the TFG, which was attacked by the Islamic Courts, and they
were reacting, I think, to the extremism that was increasingly taking
over the Islamic Courts. As I said they did not ask our consent, and we
did not give any particular blessing to their coming in. they did it
based on their own decision-makings and to their own reasons.
Shabelle: The US has repeatedly said that it was after the people who
were involved in the terror attacks like the one in Nairobi before. The
Somali people need to know if the US has evidences that such people are
in Somalia.

Ambassador: There is no question about it. The evidence is clear and it
is absolutely certain. At least three of the individuals responsible for
the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Darussalam in 1998 were
taking refuge within Somalia. Those three people were Fazul, Napal, and
al-Sudani. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. There is also no
doubt whatsoever that the Islamic Courts knew they were there and this
is something that the Somali people need to know. These three people are
individuals are associated with al-Qaeda. But more importantly, there
were a large number of foreign fighters and foreign jihadists and other
people associated with al-Qaeda, who were there active in support of the
Islamic Courts. I can tell you kwith great certainty that the influence
of al-Qaeda people was growing within the Islamic Courts and posed a
major threat to the people of Somalia.

Shabelle: today the Ethiopian troops have begun leaving Somalia,
Mogadishu in particular, which is known with anarchy. There are no other
foreign troops who can replace them now, do you have a fear that
Mogadishu will plunge into anarchy and lawlessness again with the vacuum
that Ethiopians are leaving?

Ambassador: No, I don’t think it will. I want to be clear; I think it is
important for the Somali people to know our view. We are optimistic
about the future of Somalia. the Somali people, with the rise of Islamic
Courts, saw the possibility of actually achieving law and order and some
stability, and I think the Somali people want to give the transitional
government a chance to see if they can achieve law and order and
stability throughout the country. I am optimistic in that sense. Now
there are some people who would like to cause trouble. There are always
some extremists who want to disrupt processes like this. The US is
helping to get African forces deployed to Somalia to replace the
Ethiopians. That process is well underway. We have indicated that we
will provide almost $20 million to support the deployment of those
African forces. The Ugandan forces are supposed to arrive as early as
the end of January. That will help to avoid any kind of security gap,
but I also want to indicate that it is certainly our understanding that
the Ethiopian force will not withdraw from Somalia until the African
forces have been deployed. I am not saying that you won’t see some
withdrawal. That is normal now that most of the fighting has ended. But
you won’t see a complete withdrawal. I don’t think that the Ethiopians
want to see any sort of security vacuum in Somalia. I think we and they
and the rest of the world have an interest in trying to ensure stability
and security in Somalia and in Mogadishu.

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